The world in brief

Iceland volcano blows; spa evacuated China patrolling too closely, Japan says Sudanese migrants drown off Tunisia More Myanmar troops flee to Bangladesh

Lava crosses the main road to Grindavík and flows onto the road leading to the Blue Lagoon in Grindavík, Iceland, on Thursday.
(AP/Marco Di Marco)
Lava crosses the main road to Grindavík and flows onto the road leading to the Blue Lagoon in Grindavík, Iceland, on Thursday. (AP/Marco Di Marco)


Iceland volcano blows; spa evacuated

GRINDAVIK, Iceland -- A volcano in southwestern Iceland erupted Thursday for the third time since December, sending jets of lava into the sky, triggering the evacuation of the popular Blue Lagoon geothermal spa and cutting heat and hot water to thousands of people.

The eruption began at about midnight CST along a nearly two-mile fissure northeast of Mount Sýlingarfell, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said. Several communities on the Reykjanes Peninsula were cut off from heat and hot water after a river of lava engulfed a supply pipeline.

The strength of the eruption had decreased by mid-afternoon, the Met Office said, though lava continued to spew from parts of the fissure and a huge plume of steam rose over a section of the crack where magma mixed with groundwater.

The eruption site is about 2½ miles northeast of Grindavik, a coastal town of 3,800 people that was evacuated before a previous eruption on Dec. 18. The Meteorological Office said there was no immediate threat to the town on Thursday.

The Civil Defense agency said lava reached a pipeline that supplies several towns on the Reykjanes Peninsula with hot water -- which is used to heat homes -- from the Svartsengi geothermal power plant. Authorities urged residents to use hot water and electricity sparingly, as workers rushed to lay an underground water pipe as a backup. Schools, gyms and swimming pools were shut because of the lack of heat and water.

China patrolling too closely, Japan says

TOKYO -- Chinese coast guard vessels have been passing by Japanese-claimed waters for weeks in the East China Sea and China's warships have been edging near Japan's southwestern islands in recent days, Japanese officials said.

A fleet of four Chinese coast guard vessels on Thursday passed just outside of the territorial waters of Japan-controlled islands, which Beijing also claims, for the 49th day in a row, the Japanese Coast Guard said.

It warned China's vessels against further approaching the islands, called the Senkaku in Japanese, while Beijing calls them the Diaoyu. China's Coast Guard on Tuesday acknowledged that it was patrolling waters off the Diaoyu Islands, which are also claimed by Taiwan.

China routinely sends coast guard vessels and planes into waters and airspace surrounding the islands to harass Japanese vessels in the area and force Japan to scramble jets in response.

Japan Coast Guard Commandant Shohei Ishii said last month that Chinese Coast Guard activity in infiltrating Japanese territorial waters violates international law, and that the "situation is extremely serious and is unpredictable."

Sudanese migrants drown off Tunisia

TUNIS, Tunisia -- At least 13 Sudanese migrants died and 27 others are believed missing after their small metal boat sank Thursday off the Tunisian coast as they sought to cross the Mediterranean to reach Europe, according to local authorities.

The Tunisian coast guard was able to rescue just two people from the capsized boat 9 miles off the coast of the port of Chebba, and is searching for those missing, regional court spokesperson Farid Ben Jha said. The survivors said a total of 42 people were aboard, all from Sudan.

They said the group had left from the coast of nearby Sfax, a common jumping-off point for illegal boat journeys across the Mediterranean to Italy. The boat sank soon after setting to sea, Ben Jha said.

Such migration attempts have increased recently from Tunisia, by both Tunisians and people from elsewhere in Africa.

More Myanmar troops flee to Bangladesh

NEW DELHI -- About 340 members of Myanmar's Border Guard Police and soldiers have fled into Bangladesh during fighting with an ethnic minority army, Bangladesh's foreign minister said Thursday.

Hasan Mahmud said 340 security personnel had entered Bangladesh by Wednesday. He said Bangladesh is having discussions with Myanmar's government about the issue and that it is willing to take them back.

Mahmud made the comments while on a visit to India, his first since becoming foreign minister last month.

Earlier this week, Bangladesh's border agency said some Myanmar troops had entered in recent days during fighting with the Arakan Army in Myanmar's Rakhine state bordering Bangladesh. It was the first time that Myanmar forces have been known to flee into Bangladesh since an alliance of ethnic minority armies in Myanmar launched an offensive against the military government late last year.

Officials said the troops that entered had been disarmed and taken to safe places.

Mahmud said he had also raised the issue with India, which shares a 1,020-mile border with Myanmar and is home to thousands of refugees from Myanmar in different states. Indian officials in November estimated that thousands had entered northeastern states in India to flee heavy fighting in Myanmar's western Chin state.


  photo  A view of lava crossing the main road to Grindavík and flowing on the road leading to the Blue Lagoon, in Grindavík, Iceland, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. A volcano in southwestern Iceland has erupted for the third time since December and sent jets of lava into the sky. The eruption on Thursday morning triggered the evacuation the Blue Lagoon spa which is one of the island nation's biggest tourist attractions. (AP Photo /Marco Di Marco)
 
 
  photo  A view of lava near to the road to Grindavík, close to the exit for the Blue Lagoon, in Grindavík, Iceland, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. A volcano in southwestern Iceland has erupted for the third time since December and sent jets of lava into the sky. The eruption on Thursday morning triggered the evacuation the Blue Lagoon spa which is one of the island nation's biggest tourist attractions. (AP Photo /Marco Di Marco)
 
 
  photo  A view of the volcano erupting, north of Grindavík, Iceland, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. Iceland's Meteorological Office says a volcano is erupting in the southwestern part of the country, north of a nearby settlement. The eruption of the Sylingarfell volcano began at 6 a.m. local time on Thursday, soon after an intense burst of seismic activity. (AP Photo/Marco Di Marco)
 
 
  photo  A view of the volcano erupting, north of Grindavík, Iceland, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. Iceland's Meteorological Office says a volcano is erupting in the southwestern part of the country, north of a nearby settlement. The eruption of the Sylingarfell volcano began at 6 a.m. local time on Thursday, soon after an intense burst of seismic activity. (AP Photo/Marco Di Marco)
 
 
  photo  A view of the volcano erupting, north of Grindavík, Iceland, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. Iceland's Meteorological Office says a volcano is erupting in the southwestern part of the country, north of a nearby settlement. The eruption of the Sylingarfell volcano began at 6 a.m. local time on Thursday, soon after an intense burst of seismic activity. (AP Photo/Marco Di Marco)
 
 
  photo  Aerial view of the volcano erupting, north of Grindavík, Iceland, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. Iceland's Meteorological Office says a volcano is erupting in the southwestern part of the country, north of a nearby settlement. The eruption of the Sylingarfell volcano began at 6 a.m. local time on Thursday, soon after an intense burst of seismic activity. (Almannavarnir via AP)
 
 
  photo  Aerial view of the volcano erupting, north of Grindavík, Iceland, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. Iceland's Meteorological Office says a volcano is erupting in the southwestern part of the country, north of a nearby settlement. The eruption of the Sylingarfell volcano began at 6 a.m. local time on Thursday, soon after an intense burst of seismic activity. (Almannavarnir via AP)
 
 
  photo  Aerial view of the lava from the volcano erupting in north of Grindavík, Iceland, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. Iceland's Meteorological Office says a volcano is erupting in the southwestern part of the country, north of a nearby settlement. The eruption of the Sylingarfell volcano began at 6 a.m. local time on Thursday, soon after an intense burst of seismic activity. (Almannavarnir via AP)
 
 
  photo  A view of lava hitting the hot water pipeline flowing on the road leading to the Blue Lagoon, in Grindavík, Iceland, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024. A volcano in southwestern Iceland has erupted for the third time since December and sent jets of lava into the sky. The eruption on Thursday morning triggered the evacuation the Blue Lagoon spa which is one of the island nation's biggest tourist attractions. (AP Photo /Marco Di Marco). (AP Photo /Marco Di Marco)
 
 


  photo  People watch as a volcano erupts Thursday north of Grindavík, Iceland. Iceland’s Meteorological Office says a volcano is erupting in the southwestern part of the country, north of a nearby settlement. The eruption of the Sylingarfell volcano began at 6 a.m. local time on Thursday, soon after an intense burst of seismic activity. More photos at arkansasonline.com/29iceland/. (AP/Marco Di Marco)
 
 


  photo  Hasan Mahmud, Bangladesh Foreign Minister, addresses a news conference Thursday at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club in New Delhi. (AP/Manish Swarup)